I have been privileged to speak in several secondary schools and universities, including churches and other social gatherings. One obvious discovery I have made while delivering these academic seminars is the commonly pronounced pessimistic and lackadaisical attitude students reluctantly develop towards excellence. So many of our students for one reason or the other, do not believe that they can achieve academic excellence for themselves. Some have even dared me to my face; “2:1 is okay for me”, they defiantly retort. But hear this: the only reason why you can’t make First Class or become the best student is simply because you think you can’t, they told you it is only for some ‘special students’ and you have reluctantly grown with that belief. And right now, it has made you lose interest to even dare for excellence, let alone dreaming of making First Class!
Like I fondly say to students: First Class is the easiest thing any student can make! ‘How can you say that’, you’ll ask? From tangible experience, I can emphatically say that the major reason behind students’ poor performance is their mindset. Until you see First Class as being easy and attainable, you may never achieve it. It’s simply because our minds are naturally wired to attempt things we think are possible and avoid the impossible. To get more on this, look out for my next book: “How to Activate your Genius”. If you can have the boldness to conceive it, imagine it and believe it; in fact, if you can see it you can seize it! God has been showing us great mercy in simplifying this myth and helping students make the best results for some years now. And you too can be one of them…
Do you desire to be the best student in your class/school, do you want to make First Class? The good news is that you can achieve it without breaking your head or losing your breath. I have done it, have helped some students do it too and I am currently setting students in that line also. If you truly care, here are some basic steps you must take to get there:
1. Change your mind about First Class and see it as being simple. It will make your mind to begin to desire and dare it. Avoid limiting yourself by thinking negatively. Any student can make First Class. I mean any student! The first step is to believe that it is possible. Your mind is wired in such a way that it easily attempts to achieve what you believe in. Another thing you can do is to look down on it. Make it seem simple and easy to attain; that way you will propel your mind greatly to start trying to attain it. But when you make it seem very difficult and almost impossible, you dash your hopes and the chances of trying fairly to achieve it. So, decide to change your perception about it.
2. Set a target every semester! From my coaching over the years, I have realized that most students don’t set goals for the semester concerning the kind of grade they want to make. For this, they settle for anything. Don’t be like that. Setting a clear academic target for the semester can be your guide, motivation and drive to the top. Setting a clear definite goal provides focus, zeal and concentration needed to translate your efforts to success. Write down in your book the GP you want to make for each semester and start working towards it from now. Do this at the beginning of the semester and set your heart to actualize it.
3. Aim higher! This is the other side of self limitation. When I check on most students, I discover that they usually aim very low. They say things like I want not less than 3.5, 4.0, 4.5 and the likes. Listen to this: in life, we usually hit below our targets. So the secret to achieving this kind of grade is to aim higher than the grade you want to get. If you want 4.5, aim at 5.0 and work assiduously to make it. And you need to understand that in this life, we hardly and scarcely hit at our aims when we target something. So wisdom demands that you aim higher, set a bigger target than you want to get at and consciously set out pursuing it. Your effort will tell me your aim. You can’t target 4.5 and study anytime you wish or play with class work and assignments. That’s mere wishing!
4. Manage your time well. Set your priorities aright. For every destination, there is a road to take you there. You must avoid time killers, unnecessary associations and companies. One thing I’ve noticed being around best students is that they don’t joke with their time. Avoid distractions as a student. Do only those things that will increase your chances of achieving your semester target. Always ask yourself: will this take me closer to my target or drive me away from it? Make every of your time count.
5. Study extensively. Nothing can replace extensive studying if you desire to get to the top of the academic ladder. How much you study is much you can know. A famous Latin maxim says: legere est omnes scientia fondamentum – reading is the foundation to all knowledge. The student who studies more than others will most likely know more than others. Don’t just read to pass exams. Make studying a routine. Make it your lifestyle. Consciously decide to go the extra mile in studying. I wish I can see you in person to communicate this!
6. Go for past questions in your department and learn to occasionally engage in academic discussions with your colleagues. These will build you for any exam. Past questions can guide you on how to approach the examiner’s questions and even give you an edge over other students.
7. Become personal with each examiner. No two examiners are the same. Learning how to isolate each one and relate with them individually in your answer sheet will boost your marks. Look out for what each examiner wants from you and go straight to give him that. Some lecturers like voluminous writing, some detailed explanations, some examples and illustrations, some others short and straight-forward answers without beating about the bush. Know what each examiner wants and learn how to answer their questions. This is the secret of making ‘A’s.
Finally, cultivate a positive mental attitude towards academics in general. Henry Ford said: “either you think you or you can’t, you are right”. Optimism is a basic requirement for excellence. ‘I can’ can do anything in the world. Try again! Don’t just settle there because your target was not reached. Try again. Everyone fails. Champions are those who keep trying till they get it right. It’s not about how long you try; it’s about the determination to keep on trying till you take it. I would have continued but for time and space. But I strongly believe that your academics must experience a positive shift when you fully and faithfully put these steps to work.
Do you think these ideas are not just enough and you want some more tips and nuggets on how you can reach the top of the academic ladder, then let’s help you work it out together… What do you think?
See you soon…
Yours truly motivational,
The Academic Coach.